Harbor Transit renewal may be on March ballot in Grand Haven Twp.

Alex Doty • Nov 21, 2015 at 10:00 AM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — After five years of service, Grand Haven Township voters will soon be asked to renew a transportation millage that helps provide Harbor Transit service to the township.

”The Township Board has to approve it and it has to go to the voters,” Township Manager Bill Cargo said. “I’m recommending that it be placed on the March presidential primary elections (ballot).”

According to Cargo, the reasoning behind putting it up for a vote in March is that typically there isn’t much on that ballot, so it wouldn’t be buried with other proposals that may be found in a larger election.

The 0.95-mill property tax funds the township’s portion of Harbor Transit service, as well as street resurfacing projects, regraveling rural roads and dust control on gravel roads.

“You never know if a March presidential primary will turn out enough voters to have an accurate representation of township voters,” Cargo said.

The cities of Grand Haven and Ferrysburg, Spring Lake Village, and Grand Haven and Spring Lake townships are partners that collaborate to provide the on-demand bus service.

Ridership with Harbor Transit has grown by about 45 percent in the past five years, from 155,643 rides in 2011 to more than 225,000 this year. With Spring Lake Township voters recently approving service, ridership is likely to increase even more, Harbor Transit officials say. 

Since the millage was approved by Grand Haven Township voters in 2011, the township has used that revenue for transit-related purposes, ranging from Harbor Transit to road improvements. According to the township, about 63 percent of the monies collected — about $1.8 million — have supported Harbor Transit service through the township.

Roughly 37 percent of the funds were used to supplement the township’s road maintenance program. When combined with General Fund monies and Tax Increment Finance funds, the township has budgeted about $3.5 million since 2011 and accomplished the following:

— Resurfaced about 18.3 miles of local or subdivision streets;

— Crack-sealed about 49 miles of roadways;

— Regraveled nearly 4 miles of rural roadways; 

— Applied 15 dust palliative treatments to the township’s 19 miles of gravel roadways.

Township officials noted that the road maintenance figures don’t include work done by the Ottawa County Road Commission. During the same five-year period, the Road Commission has resurfaced or seal-coated 11.18 miles of Grand Haven Township roadway.

The Township Board is expected to talk about the ballot renewal options during its work session this coming Monday night.

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